Aston Villa were the big winners this weekend, putting plenty of pressure on Sunderland and Newcastle United, who will hope that Wigan are now too far away to catch them. Meanwhile QPR and Reading both sealed their relegation in an uninspiring 0-0 draw.
QPR and Reading have been set for relegation for a few weeks now, so most of the interest at the bottom has been around which team will drop into the final relegation spot.
Since the miserable period around Christmas, when they lost 8-0, 4-0 and 3-0 in quick succession, Aston Villa have always been playing catch-up in the goal difference stakes, but the extraordinary events of the past few dates have seen them overtake Newcastle United to go 16th thanks to an eleven goal swing.
Newcastle United's 6-0 humbling at the hands of Liverpool was followed by Villa's 6-1 win over Sunderland on Monday night. Whilst Newcastle fans might have taken some comfort from the fact their neighbours were thumped as well, the set of results leaves both North East clubs in serious trouble, level with Aston Villa on 37 points, five ahead of Wigan in the last relegation spot.
It was a dramatic end to Paolo Di Canio's fine start at the Stadium of Light, but he, along with Alan Pardew and Paul Lambert, will know that one win will take his team to the fabled 40 point safety mark.
Wigan's 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur seems a decent result on paper, but conceding a late equaliser will have rankled with Roberto Martinez, and even with their game in hand, Wigan now have a worryingly large gap to bridge.
Stoke's 1-0 win over Norwich looks to have secured them another year of Premier League football, but there is now a real chance the Canaries could be dragged into the mire. Currently on 38 points, they could seal their survival with one more win, but they look amongst the most out of form of all the sides at the bottom. Southampton will also want to pick up another point or three as soon as possible, with two red cards and a 3-0 loss marking a terrible weekend for Mauricio Pochettino.
The next week or so will likely be pivotal, with Norwich facing Villa, Newcastle away at West Ham, Sunderland at home to Stoke and Wigan playing twice, against West Brom and Swansea. Once of Villa and Norwich will probably be safe by Saturday evening, and Sunderland could easily push to 40 points on Monday night. If Wigan are to make their move they need to win both games against mid-table opposition. If they do, then the relegation fight will go down to the wire, but if they drop points, Wigan could take a lot of pressure off the teams above them.
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